Nuclear Folly

Nuclear Folly

A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Summary

*Shortlisted for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History*

'An enthralling account of a pivotal moment in modern history. . . replete with startling revelations about the deception and mutual suspicion that brought the US and Soviet Union to the brink of Armageddon in October 1962' Martin Chilton, Independent

The definitive new history of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the author of Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize

For more than four weeks in the autumn of 1962 the world teetered. The consequences of a misplaced step during the Cuban Missile Crisis could not have been more grave. Ash and cinder, famine and fallout; nuclear war between the two most-powerful nations on Earth.

In Nuclear Folly, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy tells the riveting story of those weeks, tracing the tortuous decision-making and calculated brinkmanship of John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, and of their advisors and commanders on the ground. More often than not, Plokhy argues, the Americans and Soviets simply misread each other, operating under mutual distrust, second-guesses and false information. Despite all of this, nuclear disaster was avoided thanks to one very human reason: fear.

Drawing on an impressive array of primary sources, including recently declassified KGB files, Plokhy masterfully illustrates the drama of those tense days. Authoritative, fast-paced and unforgettable, this is the definitive new account of the Cold War's most perilous moment.

Reviews

  • An immense scholarly achievement, engrossing and terrifying, surely one of the most important books ever written about the Cuban Missile Crisis and 20th-century international relations
    Wall Street Journal

About the author

Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy is Professor of History at Harvard University and a leading authority on the Cold War and nuclear history. His books include the Baillie Gifford award-winner Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, Nuclear Folly, The Gates of Europe and The Last Empire.
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